Making Cuts

Planning the Booktruck Road Trip For 2020 means that this year things will look very different from 2019.

Initially, I imagined that people would appreciate books being available right where they live, like the old fashioned bookmobiles who would travel to farms and communities and provide books to people so they would not have to travel outside their zip code for something new to read. As it turns out, the days of packhorse librarians do not jive with a modern, techie, "I can get anything online" reading culture. I visited various communities over the previous season with the expectation that people would say "there's a portable bookstore right here on my street? I'm going to tell all my neighbors and head over NOW!" because that would be MY reaction.

But, lesson #1 in business: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.

So after many, many, MANY hours of standing alone with the freshly cleaned truck, loaded with my best bookish offerings, I came to the conclusion that it is not any one particular community that isn't interested, it's ALL the ones I tried.
Ok, so I course-corrected and attempted to go mostly where the people already are instead of waiting for them to come to me. Similar to the brick & mortar vs booktruck discussion that is constantly running through my mind, how do you decide if going TO them or inviting them to come TO ME is the best move? A humbling as redirecting your initial efforts are, it's nothing compared to failing... and since THAT is not an option, I let the people tell me where I should go. I did more research about events, markets, festivals, parties and options that would make room for a crazy truck with daisies on it, loaded with books. Not every event or market is well-suited. I figured that out too.

Last year at this time, I was planning events, markets, community league visits like crazy, and I said yes to anyone who would have me. I was so eager to get myself out there and show off Daisy and how cool booktrucking can be. I endured rainy, windy, sleet-filled events where there were no customers. I froze my bits while the temperature would not agree with my ambition, and I sweated so much my feet slipped out of my flip-flops. Everyone would agree that it was a bizarre year for weather, with more rain, wind, and storms than we can remember. Great. Amidst it all, I showed up.

Disappointingly, I attended some events/markets that the organizers worked hard to promote and create, and some vendors decided they didn't like the lack of customers, the bad weather or the "bad market management" and they pulled out. I stayed. I promised I would stay and I signed my name on a Vendor Contract. That means something to me. I spent time talking with Market Organizers, the trends they have seen, what makes their community unique, what vendors seem to do the best and so on.

At one out town market, I was the only vendor left standing. The poor Market manager was beside herself because she had advertised a Market and now there was just me.

I did my best, upheld my commitments even though some of them did not pay off in the least, and learned so much about the reading community and who Daisy Chain Book Co. was as a business.

So, this year I have carefully chosen events that are best suited to my reader's needs, give me a stronger reach into areas I have not visited before and then return to spots that were a Home-Run.

Instead of just saying yes to anyone who would have me, I am turning down requests and hearing from event organizers that I couldn't connect with last year. It's a different year in so many ways...

... and that's just in the planning and locations part of the business. There are other changes too. More on that later.


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